More than 400 Waterbury teachers attended a new teacher social Friday, to welcome new colleagues to the district. The new teacher social is held every year as an ice breaker to introduce the district’s new educators to the Waterbury Teachers’ Association and its members.
“It brings everyone together and shows our unity and how we can support each other,” said Waterbury Teachers Association President Kevin Egan. “It’s all about camaraderie. Our members get to meet new colleagues and catch up with old friends, in a social, relaxing atmosphere.”
Bucks Hill Elementary school teachers Alyse Gibson and Jennifer O’Donnell, who have been teaching for three years, enjoyed the opportunity to socialize and interact with their colleagues.
“It’s a great way to network, socialize, and meet new people, especially colleagues from other schools,” said Gibson.
Kennedy High School teachers Leeanne Lizak and Alyson Conway said that collaboration is critical to their jobs and “these types of events are very important to make the connections with colleagues so that we can draw upon them throughout the year.”
CEA President Sheila Cohen and CEA Executive Director Donald Williams attended the event and thanked the teachers for their advocacy and support against budget plans that would balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers.
“We need each other more now than ever,” said Cohen. “Legislators are trying to cut education funding, tax teachers, and shift the cost of our pensions to cities and towns and we need to continue to stand strong together and fight for our profession.”
“Everyone needs to be pulling together, working together, and standing together for our profession because it’s under attack,” said Williams.
North End Middle School math teacher and building representative Anthony Della Calce says he has seen firsthand the passionate teachers fighting for issues important to his profession.
“There is a lot of work being done on a daily basis that we don’t know about because we are focusing on our students in our classrooms. We need to have conversations and remind teachers about all the work the union does for them that they don’t have to think about—but we all also need to get involved.”
“Our WTA brothers and sisters come together to collaborate on how best we can help our students,” said a Wilby High School teacher. “We also need to encourage younger teachers to come out, become active members in the union and fight for what’s right.”
Wilby High School music teacher Heidi Doolan agreed. “The tax on teachers makes me nervous. I have called my legislators. We all need to voice our concerns.”
Reed School teacher Denise Griffin encourages other districts to hold socials for their members. “It’s a great way to get people involved,” she said.